Workers expect more than jobs in budget

WORKERS will be looking for more "depth" into the promises made by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation Address last week when Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan delivers his first annual budget speech in Parliament today.

Yesterday trade union Solidarity expressed its "hope" that Gordhan would "clearly explain" how the government plans to create an environment geared to economic growth and job creation.

Solidarity, which represents workers from various sectors of the economy, said it was "concerned" about the country's poor exports, low consumer spending and the uncertainty about input costs such as electricity, which were at the moment impacting on business growth.

Solidarity spokesperson Jaco Kleynhans said that in today's budget speech the government should give businesses the assurance of a stable environment to ensure that production in the economy increased faster and employment improved.

"We also hope that the minister will announce a clear plan regarding how the government will help Eskom to go ahead with its expansion plans without huge tariff hikes," he said.

Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) general secretary Dennis George said that from a broader economic policy perspective, it was of the opinion that unemployment and the resultant poverty remained South Africa's most pressing socio-economic problems.

He said the last quarter of last year as reported in the Quarterly Labour Force Survey painted a "bleak picture" of employment and showed the plight of the most vulnerable citizens.

"Fedusa believes the government should create 500000 jobs through the private sector, which should not be inclusive of the 300000 decent jobs created through the Expanded Public Works Programme, over a targeted period of 5 years."

Numsa president Cedric Gina said they would like the minister to explain how infrastructure funds would be used.